Beer of the month, December 2016 -Christmas Cake Imperial Stout by Cloudwater Brew Co and ToØl

No messing around, straight down to business. The last day of the year means a lot of round up posts. Beer and pub of the month, followed by beer and pub of the year, and a few other summary posts too.

So let’s get going. As we had the 12 days of Thornbridge at The Needle & Pin earlier this month, no surprise to find a couple of Thornbridge beers in the list.

We start with Thornbridge Lucaria, essentially chocolate ice cream in a glass, an ice cream porter that does exactly what it says on the pump clip. Rich and sweet with vanilla, lactose and chocolate.

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We move on to Thornbridge Serpent, which was the subject of the first visit to the N&P this month.  A deconstruction of the beer ensued, and it was a great night. It almost feels wrong to put this in for beer of the month, as it really feels and tastes more like a cider. . Serpent is a Belgian style golden ale, brewed with cider lees (the leftover bits from fermenting cider, yeasts, skins and whatever’s left), and then aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels. For two years.

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It was worth it.

No IPA yet? Worry no more, here comes an American style one, a collaboration between Siren Craft Brew of Berkshire and Brewdog Shepherds Bush. They put their heads together and decided to create a fruit smoothie beer, a juice-packed IPA with the most fruit they’ve ever used in a brew (mango, papaya and passionfruit), plus a huge hit of lactose for a thick and smooth body. And it is indeed smooth, just like a silk (as Shaggy once proclaimed). A silk woven from hops and a calippo to create a smooth juice bomb.

On to our winner, and appropriately enough for December it’s a Christmas beer. It’s actually the first time a festive “themed” beer has even got a look in, as they so often tend towards massive disappointment, waving a cinammon stick at an amber ale does not cut it in these enlightened times.

One of the important ingredients of Christmas is Christmas cake. But what if you are on a liquid diet? How about a Christmas cake in beer form? That can be arranged. I was within cycling distance of one of only 12 casks of Christmas Cake Imperial Stout, brewed by Cloudwater Brew Co in collaboration with ToØl of Denmark. Some say that the cakey Imperial Stout was infused with fresh ground spices and dried fruits to create something fruity, and rich, with lingering warming spices.

Our lovely little local, The Needle & Pin, had managed to secure one of these rare casks, and just a few minutes after they opened, I was ready to try some. Sold only in halves or thirds (you don’t need more), this festive delight was sure to delight anyone who came into contact with it.

Indeed it did. Without a doubt it was Christmas cake in a glass, boozy dried fruits and gentle winter spices. Well worth the brief cycle to get out and try it. Nearly everyone who walked through the door during the couple of hours that we were there wanted to try it, the exception being a couple of people who had other things to do, such as driving home or operating heavy machinery…

A worthy winner of beer of the month, and there’s a bottle maturing in the garage for MOFAD drinking companion Matt, who has this to look forward to…

It goes into the final for beer of the year… That’s up next, so stay tuned…

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